By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
There are very few people who doubt that Speaker of the Alabama House Mike Hubbard is in real trouble.
The Attorney General’s Special Grand Jury in Lee County —and the chatter surrounding it—has convinced most of the political class that the beleaguered Speaker will be indicted for criminal offenses in the not too distant future.
In the last several weeks, high-level talks from the Governor’s office to the boardrooms of industry and the ALGOP have centered around what one Republican operative has called, “The Bloodbath.”
For well over a year, the Alabama Political Reporter has painstakingly documented what we believe has been Hubbard’s misconduct. From rigging contract bids at Auburn, to placing language in the General Fund budget to benefit one of his lobbying clients, we have reported these and many other suspect activities undertaken by Hubbard and his companions. All of these stories show a pattern of how Hubbard has used his political power to enrich himself and his partners.
Of course, Hubbard not only used his office to prosper financially, he used his power to ruin the lives of anyone who would dare stand in his way.
Now, the political class is planning how to “spin” a Hubbard criminal indictment if and when it comes.
The first question has not been, “How do we clean-up the government that allowed Hubbard to operate in such a malevolent manner?”
No, that has not been the foremost question.
What is being asked is, “How do we explain how all this happened and how do we cover-up the fact that we did nothing about it?”
At the highest levels of State government the general consensus is that if the Lee County Grand Jury returns only a handful of indictments, say 1 to 10, according to one source, there will be no movement to remove Hubbard from the Speaker’s office. However, according to one GOP operative, if there are 15 to 20 indictments against Hubbard, then he will be forced from his positions as Speaker. This cynical political calculation is based on, “How much does it affect the 2014 elections,” said a political insider.
If Hubbard is charged with multiple crimes, the Governor will call a special session of the Legislature with one item on the “call”: Elect a new Speaker of the House.
It’s a simple, procedural measure, which can be quickly executed…like a guillotine.
Of course, all this is to be calculated on how much of a distraction Hubbard’s criminal arrest will be to the remaining Republican supermajority efforts to retain power. The opinion seems to be there must be multiple allegations of criminal activity before Hubbard is forced from leadership.
How does this square with the removal of Republican Sen. Scott Beason from his position as the head of the Senate Rules Committee, when he was a prosecution witness in the Bingo trial? Beason was demoted from being the Chairman of the Rules Committee because his testimony in the trial was a “distraction” according to statements made by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and others. Beason was not accused of any criminal wrong doing, yet he was removed from leadership. Beason has never been reinstated as Rules Chair, but somehow, Hubbard would be —according to some in authority —allowed to serve as the state’s most powerful legislator, if only indicted on a few counts of criminal activities?
This makes evident either a complete lack of respect for the law and the appearance of wrong doing, or it shows the control Hubbard still exercises over the highest offices of state.
Hubbard, has ruled by fear and intimidation with no regard for anyone but himself. Now that he is in trouble, he will seek mercy where he has shown none. No one outside of a very few within the criminal justice system know when or to what degree or even if Hubbard will face justice. What is believed is that it will be soon and swift.
Daily, rumors abound as to who has appeared before the Grand Jury and what has been said. The state leadership of the Republican apparatus is said to be, “a phone call away from a statement.”
What none will say is, “From the earliest days of his career as a lieutenant to Bob Riley, until this day, we knew Mike Hubbard was a malefactor, but we turned a blind-eye because we wanted to share in the power he was accumulating.
We are sorry for our complicity, by omission and commission.”